FCC Commissioner Calls for Apple and Google to Ban TikTok Over 'Surreptitious' Data Practices

The Federal Communications Commission has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores because of its "pattern of surreptitious data practices," reports TechCrunch.

tiktok logo
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is said to have written to Apple and Google on Tuesday to make the request, which comes after a BuzzFeed News report last week claimed TikTok staff in China have had access to U.S. users' data despite statements made by the company suggesting otherwise.

"As you know TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those US users. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with PRC's surveillance demands," Carr said in a letter addressed to Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook.

"It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data."

TikTok has historically responded to data privacy concerns by promising that the data of users in the United States is stored in the U.S., rather than China, where the app's parent company ByteDance is located. However, according to BuzzFeed News, TikTok staff in China had access to U.S. user data up until January 2022. The claim contradicts testimony given by a TikTok executive under sworn oath in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a "world-renowned, US-based security team" decides who gets access to U.S. users' data.

TikTok responded to the report by announcing that it is moving all U.S. users' data to Oracle servers situated in the country. The company said it uses its own U.S. and Singapore-based servers for backup, but in future it expects to "delete U.S. users' private data from our own data centers and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the U.S."

"We're also making operational changes in line with this work – including the new department we recently established, with US-based leadership, to solely manage US user data for TikTok," the company added.

TikTok's user data practices have been a point of controversy for several years now, and former U.S. President Donald Trump signed several executive orders banning apps tied to China during his time in office. In the most high profile order, Trump sought a ban of the short-form video app TikTok in 2020.

However, Trump's bans were never enforced after several court orders blocked the restrictions, despite claims by the Trump administration that the apps posed a risk to national security.

In June 2021, President Joe Biden revoked the executive orders that Trump issued in August, which attempted to force ByteDance to divest TikTok to a U.S. company, along with another one that targeted several other messaging and financial transaction apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay. Instead, the Biden administration has said it is taking an "evidence-based approach" when reviewing the security concerns posed by apps.

Biden's executive order states that the collecting of data from Americans "threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information," and directs the Commerce Department to continually evaluate any transactions that "pose an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of the critical infrastructure or digital economy of the United States."

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: TikTok

Top Rated Comments

Jason2000 Avatar
13 weeks ago
They should have listened to Trump. And yes please ban this stupid app.
Score: 65 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HappyDude20 Avatar
13 weeks ago
TikTok shouldn’t be an App that you have installed on your phone in the first place.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
13 weeks ago

They should have listened to Trump. And yes please ban this stupid app.
I think the executive order method was flawed and lost in court. Using the FCC is a more appropriate venue for such a battle and may be more effective.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
winxmac Avatar
13 weeks ago
Meta/Facebook apps to follow, maybe? Google apps as well, maybe?
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Corsig Avatar
13 weeks ago
Biden should have left that order stand instead of revoking it. Looks like the evidence waiting approached proved trump was right all along
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macmyworld Avatar
13 weeks ago
But TikTok has moved their data to the US. There is no way they could access sensitive data in China now ;)
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

tiktok logo

TikTok Says Some China-Based Employees Can Access U.S. User Data, Outlines Plan for Better Safeguards

Friday July 1, 2022 2:12 pm PDT by
TikTok is working on a plan to better safeguard the data of its U.S. users, the company said in an open letter [PDF] to several U.S. Senators that have expressed concern that the China-based app is a national security risk. Shared by The New York Times, the letter outlines a multi-pronged undertaking called "Project Texas," aimed at strengthening data security. TikTok says that 100 percent...
tim cook privacy

Apple Collects the Least Amount of User Data Out of Major Tech Companies, Study Suggests

Thursday August 25, 2022 3:21 am PDT by
A new analysis has found that out of major tech giants, Apple collects the least amount of private user data from its users, with Google, Twitter, Amazon, and Facebook collecting much more data from its users than the iPhone maker. The study measured how many data points each company collects from its users. The study found that Google topped the list, collecting a total of 39 data points...
google app safety

Google Launches Privacy Labels for Google Play Apps

Tuesday April 26, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
Google today followed in Apple's footsteps and launched a version of privacy labels for its own apps, with the aim of providing Google Play users with more information about the data that the apps they download are collecting. First announced back in May 2021, Google's "Data safety" section will require developers to provide information about how their apps collect, share, and secure user...
vpn ios settings

VPNs for iOS Are Broken and Apple Knows It, Says Security Researcher

Thursday August 18, 2022 4:44 am PDT by
Third-party VPNs made for iPhones and iPads routinely fail to route all network traffic through a secure tunnel after they have been turned on, something Apple has known about for years, a longtime security researcher has claimed (via ArsTechnica). Writing on a continually updated blog post, Michael Horowitz says that after testing multiple types of virtual private network (VPN) software on...
ios 16 clipboard prompt

Apple Executive Responds to Annoying iOS 16 Copy and Paste Prompt: 'Absolutely Not Expected Behavior'

Monday September 19, 2022 6:49 am PDT by
Apple has responded to user complaints regarding an annoying pop-up in iOS 16 that asks for user permission if an app wants to access the clipboard to paste text, images, and more. The new prompt was added to iOS 16 as a privacy measure for users, requiring that apps ask for permission to access the clipboard, which may have sensitive data. The prompt, however, has become an annoyance for...
facebook meta

Meta Sued Over Tracking iPhone Users Despite Apple's Privacy Features

Thursday September 22, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
Meta is facing a new proposed class action lawsuit that accuses it of tracking and collecting the personal data of iPhone users, despite features and policies made by Apple which are meant to stop that same type of tracking. In August, it was revealed that with the Facebook and Instagram apps, Meta can track all of a user's key taps, keyboard inputs, and more, when using the in-app browser....
Apple car wheel icon feature blue

Former Apple Engineer Pleads Guilty to Stealing Apple Car Secrets

Monday August 22, 2022 6:53 pm PDT by
Former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang today pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets, which could get him up to ten years in prison, reports CNBC. Zhang was first hired by Apple in December 2015 to work on Project Titan, developing software and hardware for autonomous vehicles. As part of the Compute Team, Zhang designed and tested circuit boards to analyze sensor data, and he was given...
Tim Cook Beijing Didi Chuxing

Apple Gives Up Board Seat at Chinese Ride-Hailing Company Didi

Wednesday August 31, 2022 1:58 am PDT by
Apple has given up its board seat at Didi Global as the Chinese ride-hailing company struggles to return to growth following crushing fines and restrictions imposed by Beijing's cyberspace regulator, reports Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple CEO Tim Cook with Didi Chuxing president Jean Liu in 2016 Adrian Perica, Apple's vice president of corporate development, resigned from the board earlier...

Popular Stories

iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.0.2 With Bug Fixes for iPhone 14 Pro Camera Vibration, Copy/Paste Issue and More

Thursday September 22, 2022 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 16.0.2, addressing a number of bugs that iPhone 14 owners have been experiencing since the new devices launched. iOS 16.0.2 comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 16, and it follows iOS 16.0.1, an update made available to iPhone 14 owners on launch day. The update is available for all iPhones that are capable of running iOS 16. The iOS 16.0.2 update can be...
maxresdefault

Video Review: Four Days With the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Wednesday September 21, 2022 7:49 am PDT by
Apple on Friday released the new iPhone 14 models, and MacRumors videographer Dan picked one up on launch day. He's been using the iPhone 14 Pro Max non-stop since it came out, and over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, has shared his initial thoughts on the day-to-day experience with the latest iPhone. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Dan's mini review highlights...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo

Five Features Rumored for the New iPad Pro Expected Next Month

Wednesday September 21, 2022 1:36 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will announce new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models as soon as next month. The new iPads will be the first update to the iPad Pro series since April 2021 and will be an overall incremental upgrade that brings new capabilities and functionality to the highest-end iPad. According to reports, Apple is planning an event for October to announce the new iPad Pro models, a...
ios 16 lock screen feature

Some iOS 16 Users Complain About Slow Spotlight Search and Battery Drain

Wednesday September 21, 2022 4:25 am PDT by
It's been nine days since Apple released iOS 16 to the public, bringing major changes to the Lock Screen, Messages, Maps, and more. In the days following the release, some users have encountered several issues on their iPhones, ranging from slow system performance to battery drain. In the past few days, iPhone 14 Pro users have shared specific bugs related to Apple's latest high-end iPhones, ...
Dynamic Island For Android Users Feature

Android App Copying iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island Released on Play Store

Thursday September 22, 2022 7:57 am PDT by
A copycat version of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has arrived on Android's Google Play Store in the form of an app called "dynamicSpot." The app, still in beta, offers customers several different experiences at the top of their smartphones. In its current form, dynamicSpot offers playback control for songs, timers, battery status, and more features coming soon, according to the app's...
facebook meta

Meta Sued Over Tracking iPhone Users Despite Apple's Privacy Features

Thursday September 22, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
Meta is facing a new proposed class action lawsuit that accuses it of tracking and collecting the personal data of iPhone users, despite features and policies made by Apple which are meant to stop that same type of tracking. In August, it was revealed that with the Facebook and Instagram apps, Meta can track all of a user's key taps, keyboard inputs, and more, when using the in-app browser....
apple watch ultra reddit 1

Lucky Customer Gets New Apple Watch Ultra Two Days Early

Wednesday September 21, 2022 2:03 pm PDT by
With millions of devices shipping out to customers with every Apple launch, there's occasionally someone who gets lucky and gets a new product ahead of schedule. This time around, Redditor playalisticadillac received an Apple Watch Ultra from AT&T two days before the official debut, sharing some images on the social media site. The images include an unboxing and comparisons to the...
new airpods pro ear tips

Apple Explains Why Second-Generation AirPods Pro Ear Tips Are Incompatible With Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 22, 2022 3:12 pm PDT by
Apple today explained why the new silicone ear tips for the second-generation AirPods Pro are not officially compatible with the original AirPods Pro. In an updated support document, Apple said the original AirPods Pro ear tips have "noticeably denser mesh" than the second-generation ear tips. Apple did not provide any additional details, but the mesh density could result in acoustical...